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Maintaining adequate staffing levels and improving efforts to recruit and retain lab staff should remain priorities for lab owners and leaders.
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Burned Out in an Understaffed Lab? This Survey Says You’re Not Alone

A recent survey of medical lab staff shows that 73 percent work in understaffed labs, with many unhappy in their roles

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Rachel Muenz
Photo portrait of rachel muenz

Rachel Muenz is the managing editor of G2 Intelligence and was previously senior digital content editor at Lab Manager, a publication dedicated to teaching lab professionals the management skills they need to run their laboratories as effectively as possible. She has more than 10 years of experience as a writer, editor, and curator of both print and digital content, with the majority focused on laboratory topics. Rachel holds an honors bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Toronto and a diploma in journalism from Centennial College. Rachel regularly contributes news and insights to Today's Clinical Lab.

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Published:Aug 12, 2022
|2 min read
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A recently published survey confirms what those in the field have long known—most medical laboratory professionals are burned out and working in understaffed labs. That’s in spite of most of the respondents (72 percent) receiving higher salaries than they were in 2021, according to the 2022 Wage and Morale Survey of Medical Laboratory Professionals conducted by Lighthouse Lab Services, a medical lab consulting and recruiting firm.

However, it’s important to note that those raises were moderate, involving increases of 1–5 percent, thus failing to keep pace with current inflation rates, the survey report says. The survey included responses from 1,112 individuals involved in the US lab industry in various roles, of which:

  • 40 percent described their labs as “moderately understaffed”
  • 33 percent described their labs as “significantly understaffed”

The 73 percent of respondents who said their labs were understaffed were also more likely to be unhappy at work, with 44 percent saying they were unsatisfied in their roles, according to the survey results. This highlights the importance of maintaining adequate staffing levels to employee satisfaction, Lighthouse notes.

In spite of those results, Lighthouse says it was surprised at how high morale was among respondents overall, noting, however, that morale tended to be lower among new medical lab workers, possibly due to low wages that don’t counter the high cost of the required education for the field.

While this is only the first wage and morale survey Lighthouse has conducted, the firm plans to continue conducting it on an annual basis to collect high-quality data on how various factors impact lab workers’ satisfaction that lab leaders can act on. 

The results so far show that maintaining adequate staffing levels and improving efforts to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of medical lab professionals should remain priorities for lab owners and other leaders in the industry, Lighthouse says.

To find out more, read this news story from TCL’s partner brand, G2 Intelligence.